Can a Nuclear Attack on Israel Be Compared Legitimately with the Holocaust?

March 6th, 2012

By Dan Miller

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuIt can be and should be.

According to this article by the editor-in-chief of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s AIPAC speech

moved closer than ever to the point of no return en route to war with Iran.

Netanyahu compared Iran to Nazi Germany, its nuclear facilities to death camps, and his current trip to the White House to a desperate plea to former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt by the U.S. Jewish community to bomb Auschwitz. …

The Holocaust talk has but one meaning: they force Israel to go to war and strike the Iranians. The justifications against an attack, weighty as those may be, turn to fumes when put up against the Warsaw Ghetto, Auschwitz, and Treblinka. No calculus of missiles falling on Tel Aviv, rising oil prices and economic crisis can hold water when compared to genocide. If that’s the situation, the option of sitting quietly, expecting the “world” to neutralize Iran, or of a stable balance of terror, becomes nonexistent. If Netanyahu doesn’t act and Iran achieves nuclear weapons capabilities, he’ll go down in history as a pathetic loud mouth. As a poor man’s Churchill. (Emphasis added)

With all due respect to the Haaretz editor-in-chief, it seems unlikely that PM Netanyahu compared, or intended to compare, rising gasoline prices, closure of the Straits of Hormouz or even a resulting economic crisis to the Holocaust. There is no such comparison to be made.  Here is what he said. The focus was on an Iran armed with nuclear weaponry.

We are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons; we leave all options on the table; and containment is definitely not an option.

The Jewish state will not allow those who seek our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. …

Responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the belief that the world’s most dangerous regimes won’t use the world’s most dangerous weapons.

And I promise you that as Prime Minister, I will never gamble with the security of the State of Israel. …

Iran calls for Israel’s destruction, and they work for its destruction – each day, every day.

This is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons.  Think of how they will behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons.  Iran will be even more reckless and a lot more dangerous.

There’s been plenty of talk recently about the costs of stopping Iran.  I think it’s time we started talking about the costs of not stopping Iran.

A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella. Let me try to explain what that means, a nuclear umbrella.

It means that Iran’s terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas will be emboldened to attack the United States, Israel, and other countries because they will be backed by a power that has atomic weapons.  So the terrorism could grow tenfold. …

I want you to think about what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in the hands of those who lead millions of radicals who chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”

When you think about that you’ll reach a simple conclusion: for the sake of our prosperity, for the sake of our security, for the sake of our children, Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons!

Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, a likely place for an Iranian nuclear attack, is the second most populous city (404,400) in Israel and is at the center of the Tel Aviv metropolitan area (population 3,325,700) which houses about 42% of Israel’s population.

Jewish population

Tel Aviv is an ethnically diverse city. The Jewish population in Tel Aviv consists of immigrants from all parts of the world and their descendants, including Ashkenazi Jews from Europe, North America, South America and South Africa, as well as Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews from Southern Europe, North Africa, India, Central Asia, West Asia,and the Arabian Peninsula. There are also a sizable number of Ethiopian Jews and their descendants living in Tel Aviv.

Non-Jewish population

In Addition to the Muslim and Arab Christian minorities in Tel Aviv, There is [sic] also several hundred Armenian Christians who are concentrated mainly in Jaffa and some Christians from the former Soviet Union who immigrated to Israel with Jewish spouses and relatives. In recent years Tel Aviv has received many non-Jewish migrants, students, foreign workers (documented and undocumented) and refugees from Belarus, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Cyprus, Estonia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, India, the Ivory Coast, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kurdistan, Moldova, Nepal, Nigeria, the Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, the UK, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. There are many refugees from African countries located near the Central Bus Station.

Here is what PM Netanyahu said about oil:

A nuclear-armed Iran could choke off the world’s oil supply and make real its threat to close the Straits of Hormouz.

If you’re worried about the price of oil today, imagine how high oil prices could get once a nuclear-armed Iran starts blackmailing the world.

Addressed to a world community that may not much care about what happens to Israel, that hardly seems to have been within the context of his Holocaust remarks.  Nor is even the probability that Iran and her various proxies will continue to shower errant missiles on Israel comparable. However, the use of an Iranian nuclear weapon on Tel Aviv or elsewhere in Israel would be rather more serious and to that the comparison is entirely appropriate.  The possibility of Iran doing so is far from remote, as witness multiple statements by the Iranian leadership, such as it is, concerning her intentions to wipe Israel and Jews from the face of the earth. Iranian rantings, insane though they seem, are no less so than those of Herr Hitler during the 1930s. They were taken seriously only belatedly and many lives were lost in consequence.

It has been said that the Iranian leadership are “rational.” They may well be. However, there can be rational responses to gross misconceptions of fact. If I mistake a sleeping kitten on my sofa for a rabid tiger about to attack me, my reaction of shooting it — although rational in light of my perception — would generally be viewed as that of a mentally deranged person.  Prior Iranian responses to the efforts of some in the world community to force her to halt her efforts to obtain nuclear armaments, through diplomacy and sanctions, may have been based on her rational calculations that those efforts would hurt neither Iran nor her leadership significantly and that her efforts could continue unabated, while using talk and endless negotiations to continue to buy enough time for her nuclear efforts to come to fruition.

Atomic BombIt is certainly to be hoped that Iran takes PM Netanyahu’s comments literally and seriously. They were spoken neither in jest nor as statements he would eventually recant under pressure from President Obama or others. If Iran misinterprets those words, Israel will act because she has to. To do otherwise would be to accept the inevitable in Holocaust fashion, as did many Jews and others put to death with little resistance; they had no viable alternative.  Israel does have viable alternatives and, should it become necessary to preempt nuclear attack by Iran and/or her proxies, that is what she must do. Mere words and sanctions from the “international community” will not obviate that necessity.  Credible threats of force, rather than posturing, could well have a better chance of success than continued diplomatic words and gestures.

(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)

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5 Responses to “Can a Nuclear Attack on Israel Be Compared Legitimately with the Holocaust?”

  1. larry |

    Bubba Dan
    Had we have honored our pledges to Israel, the present dangerous situation might not exist.
    This is yet another example the lack-luster work being done by this president and his administration. Would Iran be so reckless if confronted by a stronger U.S. president?
    Israel has every right to exist and every right to defend that existence.

  2. Tom Carter |

    A fundamental fact about Iran that we have to understand is that it’s under the control of radical Muslim clerics. Ahmadinejad is the political frontman, but the clerics control on issues that interest them. So, the normal rules of foreign policy and political incentives don’t really apply. If they develop deliverable nuclear weapons, a threat of devastating retaliation probably wouldn’t mean much to them. It would just give them an opportunity to turn all Iranians into martyrs in pursuit of their goal of destroying Israel and killing all Jews.

    I don’t know if Iran actually intends to develop nuclear weapons. They may be posturing and posing to gain attention. Remember always that they aren’t rational. However, if we’re convinced that they’re going that direction, I don’t think anything short of destroying their capabilities will change things.

    Something to think about: All serious intelligence services and most political leaders, certainly in the West, were convinced that Iraq had and would use WMD. Seems that wasn’t true.

  3. Dan Miller |


    We can expect no better, but probably worse, from President Obama. I suspect, but obviously don’t know, that despite his efforts to get the price of gasoline sufficiently high to make “green” fuel viable, now that November and the election are fast approaching he does not want to see the prices rise until after the election. I suspect, but again don’t know, that that is his principal focus. Should Israel turn into radioactive ash, that might well be of less consequence to him than whether he gets another four (shudder) years.

  4. Dan Miller |

    Tom, now that the Iranian elections have been held, Ahmadinejad seems to have lost much or even most of the clout he previously had and the reins are more firmly in the hands of the “religious” sector. That does not bode terribly well for the rest of us.

    Clearly, we don’t know whether Iran has or is even trying to get, nuclear weapons. However, the indications are that she is. We may have made mistakes as to Iraq’s WMD. However, there have been indications that lots of stuff was transported to Syria as Iraq fell, including chemical and biological agents — hardly a thought to console us. It is difficult to determine from satellite photos whether trucks heading toward Syria carry chemical and biological agents or the makings of nuclear devices. Perhaps they simply had orphan puppies, but I doubt that.

    As to intelligence, Israel has often been right. She has to be right because she is much closer to the fire than others. A nuclear attack on Israel would be rather worse than a spike in gasoline prices in the United States and elsewhere.

    As between those who tell President Obama what they think may be happening and those who tell PM Netanyahu what they think is happening, I feel (feel because I can’t know) that the latter are more likely to be correct than the former. President Obama has, I understand, a substantial tendency to hear what he wants to hear and to disregard information that he does not want to hear. Those who provide the latter sink in stature before him and therefore in importance.

  5. Dan Miller |

    Further to comment #4, this just came to my inbox. DEBKAfile is not highly regarded by many and I haven’t paid much attention to it. Still, it might be worth considering.

    President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed not only their dispute over an attack on Iran at their White House meeting on March 5, but devoted considerable attention to the Syrian crisis, focusing on the hundreds of surface-to-surface missiles armed with chemical and biological warheads possessed by Syria. The peril of the Assad regime launching them now tops America’s chart of the threats looming over Israel and Turkey, those sources told debkafile.

    It may all be bovine feces, but then it may not be.

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